King was recorded with Frank Rotthier at Rockstar Recordings in between lockdowns in the autumn of 2020. Released on POLDERRECORDS on Friday 6 May 2022.
Think of the great three-piece bands throughout the history of rock ‘n roll and you’ll likely mention, among others, Cream, Hüsker Dü, Kings X, Motörhead, Nirvana, The Police, Rush, ZZ Top… well, I’ve got another one for that list: Gnome, a stoner power trio hailing from Antwerp in the Netherlands. So good are they that one of my sons is now listening to them on repeat. (Not right now, right now he’s at school.)
I’m not entirely sure how I first came across Gnome during the autumn of last year except that it had something to do with YouTube’s algorithmic magic: Hey! You’ve watched this video, check out these guys. So, I did. And they were as irresistible as their hooks and thundering riffs, stacked one on top of another. I bought their album straight away.
Once you get over the silly name and the even sillier gnome hats they wear on stage and in their promo videos, it can’t be denied, from either their stage presence or their tutorial videos on how to play some of their songs, that Gnome have a great sense of humour. And a great sense of Riff™.
Opening track, “Ambrosius” (track 1) has a fabulous ear-worm of a riff (as attested by my son who complained last weekend that he couldn’t get this song out of his head).
“Your empire” (track 2) has an almost comical beginning, like the incidental music for a Scooby Doo creepy chase scene. But it soons transforms into a more familiar stoner track. “Bulls of Bravik” (track 3) has a similar riff but the lyrics feature the most amazing rolled R as “Brrrrravik” is spat out. “Antibeast” (track 4) features slow and heavy riffs with plenty of buzzing, repeating, and bending.
“Wenceslas” (track 6), also featured in the video below, is probably my favourite song on the album. It never fails to put a smile on my face, and the promo video even more so. I came for the song and return regularly for the dance routine. The song is heavy, layered and fabulously melodic.
“Kraken wanker” (track 7) (pronounced ‘vanker’) has a pretty melody that weaves itself throughout the song which is annoyingly catchy and speeds up and slows down. I have no idea what “Stinth thy clep” (track 8) means, but the bass intro is meaty and the main riff has a fun gallop.
The album closes with the 70s-influenced “Platypus platoon” (track 8) that lasts a prog-tastic 11 minutes and 45 seconds and morphs into a wibbly-wobbly variation of the main riff around 8 minutes.
I have reserved a very special place in my heart for this album. It is wonderfully human, wonderfully humourous in places. It has soul, it has depth, it has character. In a few places, it coasts a little but on the whole it absolutely hits its mark and then some. This is going to be on my day-to-day playlist for quite some time.
Review score: 90%